Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

October 7, 2022

Mouse puppets voice a polyamory documentary on the BBC. Georgia's first queer nonbinary polyam Iranian elected official and their triad. And other poly in the news.

●  Here's something different. The BBC's online streaming channel BBC-3 aired a television documentary with members of the UK's polyamory community, using mouse puppets to speak their voices. This gives the interviewees both cuteness and anonymity. Filmmaker Emily Morus-Jones says a a reason for the idea was to separate the viewers from making automatic judgments against humans on display. It's titled Diomysus  — More than Monogamy. Watch below. (If the embed won't play, watch it here.)

The 5-minute piece aired on BBC-3 yesterday, October 6. It certainly holds attention, and the interviews themselves are lovely.

An article about it yesterday: Creature Comforts meets Jim Henson in new BBC polyamory doc (on the site It's Nice That, "championing creativity since 2007"). Excerpts:

Capturing a community on the rise – one at best misunderstood, at worst vilified in society – Diomysus floats fresh perspectives on polyamory.

By Liz Gorny

...Emily [the filmmaker] turned to the combination of soundbites and puppeteering so famously utilised in Creature Comforts, this time reaping a particular reward from the approach – anonymity.

...Diomysus certainly discusses sensitive themes. The film presents interviews with a range of people who are polyamorous, discussing their relationships and the backlash they’ve run into when sharing their polyamory with their circles. “Polyamory, although certainly slowly making its way into mainstream culture, is for many people quite a challenging concept to get their heads around, and we live in a very aesthetically driven society,” Emily explains. Puppetry gives space to Diomysus’ contributors to speak freely but also to the audience to absorb challenging concepts in a welcoming format and look beyond the people presenting the ideas.

...“I wanted to find a creature that was sex-positive,” Emily explains. After deciding against other more obvious choices – dolphins, the bonobo – the director finally arrived at mice. “I read somewhere that house mice very often raise their pups as a group,” the director reveals. To Emily, this seemed to speak to what polyamory is all about; working together with your partners to “survive the, often turbulent, world which we live in”.

...Diomysus is ultimately an experiment in unconscious bias. It aims to both shift the narrative around polyamory and see if puppetry can help provide some space for empathy and nuanced thought around the subject. As Emily says: “One of the most joyful things about puppets is that they can get away with a lot of things that people can’t and the audience accepts it. ...

...“I think society at large can learn a lot from the polyamorous community if it takes the time to really understand the depth of the ideas that they are trying to get across.”

●  This one's getting a lot of attention all over:  Georgia lawmaker comes out as nonmonogamous: 'I'm in love with two wonderful people' The story below is from the "NBC Out" subsite of NBC News (Sept. 28)

Atlanta City Council member Liliana Bakhtiari, the first queer Muslim person to be elected in Georgia, has two partners, and the three of them plan to build a family.

Liliana Bakhtiari (center) with Sarah Al-Khayyal (left)
 and Kris Brown. Cats: Moo (left) and Rugrat.

 By Jo Yurcaba

When Atlanta City Council member Liliana Bakhtiari won the 5th District seat last November, it represented two major firsts: Bakhtiari was the first queer Muslim person elected in the state of Georgia and the first nonbinary councilmember of a major U.S. city.

But Bakhtiari, who uses they and she pronouns, wasn’t entirely out of the closet at the time. While they had been with their partner, Kris Brown, for 10 years, the duo kept quiet about what they’ve both described as one of the best parts of their lives: They are nonmonogamous, and are in a relationship with a third person, Sarah Al-Khayyal.

Now, a year after Bakhtiari’s election and two years into their relationship with Brown and Al-Khayyal, the three of them have decided to come out in an exclusive interview with NBC News as they plan to build a family.

Bakhtiari said that too often stories like theirs will come out “in a scandal.”

“But we’re openly showing it and proud of it,” Bakhtiari, 34, said during a video interview, as Brown and Al-Khayyal sat on either side. “It should be destigmatized. It’s a very valid familial structure that people should embrace.”

...Bakhtiari met Brown in Atlanta in 2012 the old fashioned way — at a gay bar. When the two started dating, Bakhtiari said they were upfront with Brown that they are nonmonogamous, meaning they prefer to date and form relationships with more than one person.

“I was like, ‘That’s cool with me,’” said Brown, 33.... “It was the first time that I had been with anyone who didn’t want to be monogamous. For me, it was kind of a relief as well to be like, ‘OK, I don’t have to be this person’s everything all the time. I can be as much of their life as works for us, and we can have this fluidity,’ and I really liked the feeling of that.”

Bakhtiari said their relationship with Brown was the first serious relationship they had, and they were coming into it at a difficult time in their life. 

“I grew up in an overbearing household that didn’t allow for a lot of independence to happen,” Bakhtiari said. ...

Their friends and community members saw how positively the relationship affected Bakhtiari, they said, and it became publicly romanticized. But, Bakhtiari said, that meant “when people would find out that we were open or nonmonogamous, it was like someone destroyed a fairytale for them.” 

...In the fall of 2020, Bakhtiari met Al-Khayyal through a virtual nonmonogamy support group. Al-Khayyal is a policy manager at a nonprofit and is on the Atlanta mayor’s LGBTQ advisory board. 

...“This is the sort of thing that a political opponent or someone who has some ax to grind might pick up on and twist around and turn into something negative, and we want to claim it upfront, and say this is the best thing about our life,” Brown said. 

Bakhtiari said that when they tell people about their relationship, people often respond in two ways: with support and/or curiosity. ... Their families have also been supportive, Bakhtiari said. ...

In addition to allowing them to live openly and address stigma, Brown said that they hope coming out will allow them to raise awareness of barriers that nontraditional families still face.

For example, Brown was in the hospital this year, and only one person was allowed in the hospital room with them.

“There’s an opportunity for us to kind of shed light on that, and be like, ‘Hey, there are nontraditional families out there,’” Brown said. “We’re going to grow our family, and we want those kids to also be able to navigate the world how they want to navigate the world.”

Another example of the coverage: in The Advocate, Queer Lawmaker Liliana Bakhtiari Comes Out as Nonmonogamous (Sept. 30). 

●  Triad interaction patterns. A triad is the simplest polycule that contains an interrelationship bond (since it has three links, as opposed to a vee with two separate ones). This naturally means that triads — never mind whether all three bonds are sexual — are the commonest poly interrelationships you see. 

Any relationship of three people, whether they're friends, siblings, co-workers, or poly partners, tends to develop certain characteristic behaviors, writes polyfamily researcher Elisabeth Sheff on her Psychology Today blogsite: Common Interaction Patterns Among 3 People (Sept. 27). 

...Interactions among three entities—individuals, groups, institutions—are incredibly common. From two older siblings ganging up on the youngest one, to the “theater geeks” and the “stoners” creating an informal coalition to prank the “jocks” in their high school, or the United States attempting to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians... common patterns of interaction appear between three units.

In 1890s Berlin, foundational sociologist Georg Simmel hosted cocktail parties and salons where he would observe interactions among the partygoers. Through decades of such observations, Simmel developed his ideas of social interaction on an interpersonal level and created theories about those at the larger social level, including topics like money, fashion, games, and the social life of urban centers. Many of Simmel’s ideas explore social distance and placement, which he called social geometry.

...These patterns reappear so often that they function almost as archetypes for interaction, not only among individuals but at every social level.

Patterns among three entities take several primary forms: all three united together, two forming a coalition against the remaining one, or one mediating between [or bossing?] the other two.

...When all three entities are together, they strongly align their ideas, behaviors, and goals.

[In] a dynamic of two against one, two of the three collaborate to present a united front....

In other cases, one member of the threesome will mediate between the other two.

...These triadic dynamics will vary tremendously in consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships, depending largely on the type of CNM, the people involved in the interactions, the boundaries they have negotiated, and the distribution of power within the threesome.

The dream for many polyamorists is the three-for-all dynamic when every triad member shares a strong agreement about boundaries and goals, and all are equally invested in the long-term well-being of the relationship and its members.

While that level of connection and agreement can be delightful, it can also be quite challenging to establish and sustain—especially if two members of the threesome had an established relationship before connecting with the third. ...

Some triads create an alternative to the two-for-one ["couple privilege"] dynamic, in which both members of the pre-existing relationship focus on the third person who has joined them. When done manipulatively to get the third person to bond with the existing couple and forsake outside connections, that joint attention might be better understood as love bombing. If it is an authentic attempt to honor and celebrate the newcomer, then a two-for-one dynamic can spur the transition to three-for-all.

Another common expression is the one-between-two interaction, in which one partner wants to be with two other people, but those people are somehow at odds with each other. ... Done manipulatively, the hinge distorts information in translation to control the situation. More often, at least in my research data, the hinge feels caught between the two partners, buffeted and pulled rather than in control of the interactions. In many resilient polyamorous relationships, the two partners of the hinge establish a friendly relationship in which they can communicate directly if needed.

Sometimes these [endpoints of a vee] develop polyaffective relationships, coming to see each other as chosen family members like a sibling, dear friend, and/or co-spouse. Over the years, several of the polyaffective triads in my longitudinal study have transitioned from a congenial one-between-two to a three-for-all dynamic without the sexual relationships changing at all. ...

●  Also by Sheff, just up: What Makes a Resilient Throuple? (Oct. 7). "How Gen Z is changing the stereotypical norms of consensual non-monogamy."

...Rather than the stereotypical one man with two women triad, my findings indicate that the most common and stable form of polyamorous triad among the parents in my [25-year] research sample (primarily the youngest Baby Boomers and Gen X) is composed of a woman with two male partners. In contrast with the one penis policy common in some FMF throuples, these triads with two men and one woman very rarely have a "one vagina policy." Much more often, all members of the triad are able to date others of any gender they desire.

...At their best, the men develop an intimate bond with each other outside of their connection to the woman. This bond between the metamours (the men who are each partnered with the woman but not in a sexual relationship with each other) is so important to the stability of these triads that I named them polyaffective relationships and identified that bond as the core of the stable polyamorous family or polycule. ...

Among the Millennials and Generation Z, the stereotypical one-man-with-two-women triad is less common for an additional reason. Not only do these younger people tend to have a less rigid power hierarchy associated with gender, but many of them also reject stereotypical gender completely.

...Zoomers and Millennials are changing the face of gender, sexuality, relationships, and the associated power hierarchies that go with these complex and intertwined categories. In so doing, they have also largely reconstructed the stereotypical FMF polyamorous triad into something much more fluid.

● And more Poly 101 in pop media: Common Mistakes When Trying Non-Monogamy (Ask Men, Sept.  30). Below are the subtitles. Each gets a paragraph of explanation and one of "What to do instead." The advice is brief but worth passing on to the curious.

By Alex Manley

...So many people are new to this stuff; there aren’t a ton of existing cultural scripts to guide people. 

...AskMen spoke to three non-monogamy experts about common mistakes to avoid. Here’s what they had to say: 

1. Pressuring a Monogamous Partner to Open Up...
2. Not Knowing What You Want from Non-Monogamy...
3. Assuming Non-Monogamy Will Fix a Monogamous Relationship... 
4. Thinking Non-monogamy Is All About Sex...
5. Trying to Avoid Your Emotions:
...“If you want to work through an emotion,” [Jess] O’Reilly says, you could consider these strategies:
    -- Consider how it shows up in your body. 
    -- Look for ways to assuage the physical sensations/manifestations. 
    -- Write down/reflect upon how you’re feeling and why you think you’re feeling that way.
    -- Write down/reflect upon how you want to feel. Consider what it would take for you to feel that way.
    -- Don’t feel pressure to analyze every single feeling.
6. Making Assumptions About What It Will Look Like...
7. Assuming You’ll Get Laid a Ton...
8. Decreasing Communication Over Time...
9. Not Thinking About Scheduling...

●  The newspaper advice lady "Ask Annie" (Annie Lane) comes around. She's published a followup to her column a month ago in which, you may remember, a person signing themself "Three's Company" complained "My future in-laws’ polyamorous relationship makes me not want to be around them."  Annie more or less sniffed off the idea of any triad having a future. Now she takes poly relationships more seriously in a new column: Three's Company followup (Morning Journal, Lisbon, Ohio; Sept. 30).

That's because of a very thoughtful letter someone sent her. Was it one of you? 

Dear Annie: I’m writing regarding “Three’s Company,” who feels uncomfortable around her future brother- and sister-in-law and their girlfriend who now lives with them and their children. You were correct to say that only the people involved know what really goes on in a relationship. I am sure you will hear from others, but polyamory can mean long-term, committed relationships. Just because they don’t look like what the concerned sister-in-law believes they should look like doesn’t make them wrong and it doesn’t mean they are doomed. ...

Many poly people actively spend time learning to better communicate with their partners. I have been in a loving polyamorous relationship for 24 years. My partners care for me and support each other when I have been seriously ill. Even the nuns in the nursing home I was in for a while said they had never heard of it before but that I had the best support system they had ever seen.

Three’s Company should consider supporting her sister-in-law, and maybe she will learn that love may look different for the thruple, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Also, the children may now have another trusted adult to turn to when they need help with homework or are frustrated with their parents. Love is beautiful in many forms. — Pleased to Be Poly

Dear Pleased: Thank you for sharing your insights. You’re right that there is an abundance of love out there, and it looks different for everyone. There are certainly details about the thruple’s situation that we don’t know. I hope their dynamic is as loving and supportive as the one you have with your partners.

●  Podcast on Somerville's multi-domestic partnership law. Meredith Goldstein is a super-popular advice columnist in my hometown Boston Globe. She also has a podcast, "Love Letters," and just up on it is Welcome to Polyamory City (29 minutes; Season 7, Episode 3).  "Polyamory City" is Somerville next to Boston.  

In 2020, Somerville, Massachusetts became the first municipality in the country allowing polyamorous relationships to qualify for domestic partnership status. Meredith talks to one of the first people to register for the new designation. They discuss what it means – and what it doesn’t. Meredith also talks to a [local] legal expert [Kimberly Rhoten of the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, PLAC] about the broader social and legal implications of the Somerville ordinance.

I learned something new from this: You don't have to live in Somerville to get its certificate of multiple domestic partnership!

No, it's not legally valid elsewhere. But if you have that document, you not only have something to frame and hang on your wall, it will also be evidence of your serious, committed multiple relationship at the time of issuance, if you ever need this in family court, housing court, a custody dispute, or who knows what. And of course, if you have kids it could become an heirloom for generations.

●  I note this one because of the headline: The Era Of Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Here. But Are We Just Blindly Following A Fad? (Hauterrfly, a women's-products influencer site, Sept. 27). Despite the headline it's a positive little Poly 101, but the writer lays out the bad experiences she had with today's scene.

If you're "just blindly following a fad" you really shouldn't be doing this thing.

●  A similar reminder: Some — many? — people you'll meet these days talk the ENM talk but don't walk the walk. Ethical non-monogamy is a farce, I know because I tried it. This appeared Oct. 6 in the "Body & Soul" subsite of Murdoch's News.com.au.

Not all ethical non monogamous relationships are as bright and shiny as they may seem from the outside. From a lack of trust to STIs and being ghosted, Shona Henley pens the reality of these (often glamourised) partnerships.


Meanwhile, much bigger shit gets real.

Why have I been ending most posts to this polyamory news site with the Ukraine war?

Because I've seen many progressive movements become irrelevant and die out by failing to scan the wider world correctly and understand their position in it strategically.

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some influential people call us a threat to society — because by living successfully outside their worldview, we expose its incompleteness. Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

The Russian family-cartoon series Masyanya
turned dissident. Watch. The cartoonist has fled.
Such a society is only possible where people have power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to guarantee the rights of all.

People, communities, and societies who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal rights that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to choose their lives — by intimidation, repressive laws, inflammatory disinformation and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukraine relief through this list of organizations vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. We're giving to a big one, Razom, and to a little one, Pizza for Ukraine in Kharkiv, a project of an old friend of my wife.


But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetimes.

The coming times are going to require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we find ourselves born into. We do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

Need a little help bucking up? Play thisAnother version. More? Just some guys in Kharkiv (our Pizza for Ukraine town) helping to hold onto a free and open society, a shrinking thing in the world. The tossed grenade seems to have saved them. Maybe your granddad did this across a trench from Hitler's troops — for you, and for us,  because a world fascist movement was successfully defeated that time, opening the way for the rest of the 2oth century. Although the outcome didn't look good for a couple of years there.

Remember, these people say they're doing it for us too. They are correct.  The global struggle between a free, open future and a fearful revival of the dark past that's shaping up, including in our own country, is still in its early stages. The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The outcome is again uncertain, and it will determine the 21st century and the handling of all its other problems.

We'll have a better idea after the election. Whatever else you do, vote.

BTW:  The single most cost- and time-effective thing you can do to Get Out The Vote is urge your friends and family to vote.


PS: Ukraine should not be idealized as the paragon of an open democratic society. For instance, see If Ukraine Wants To Stand for Liberty and Democracy, It Should Rethink Some of Its Wartime Policies. And the country had quite a history of being run by corrupt oligarchs — until the Maidan Uprising of 2013, the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, and Zelensky's overwhelming election in 2019 as the anti-corruption candidate. So they're working on that.

Now, writes US war correspondent George Packer in The Atlantic (Sept. 7),   

Here was a country with a tragic history that had at last begun to build, with great effort, a better society. What made Ukraine different from any other country I had ever seen—certainly from my own—was its spirit of constant self-improvement, which included frank self-criticism. For example, there’s no cult of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine—a number of Ukrainians told me that he had made mistakes, that they’d vote against him after the war was won. Maxim Prykupenko, a hospital director in Lviv, called Ukraine “a free country aspiring to be better all the time.” The Russians, he added, “are destroying a beautiful country for no logical reason to do it. Maybe they are destroying us just because we have a better life.”

They have a word there, with a deep history, for the horizontal, self-organized mutual get-it-done that grows from community social trust: hromada. Learn that word. It's getting them through. We polyfolks often dream of creating that sort of community spirit in miniature, in our polycules and networks. Occasionally we succeed.

Social attitudes in Ukraine are generally traditional, but not bitterly so like often in the US; the ideal of modern European civil society is widely treasured, and social progressivism has room to thrive. More than 40,000 women volunteers reportedly serve all roles in the armed forces, including as combat officers, platoon leadersartillery gunners, tankers, and snipers. LGBT folx in the armed forces openly wear symbols of LGBT pride on their uniforms, whereas in Russia it can be a crime for even a civilian to show a rainbow pin. Writes kos in the big lefty news site Daily Kos (July 29),

I find [this] particularly salient given American conservative hostility toward women serving in our military. People like Ted Cruz praising the supposed manliness of the Russian army, while claiming ours is weak because of “woke culture.” Ukraine puts that bullshit to bed, not just with the women serving in its ranks, but with gay soldiers very publicly sewing unicorn patches on their uniforms to denote their pride.

He retweets a meme from a military blogger on the plight of the abused gay Russian draftee:

To hell with any conservatives who impugn anyone’s service as somehow less effective or honorable than white straight men. 

 Don't miss Polyamory in the News!
 SUBSCRIBE by a feed, or
 SUBSCRIBE by email



Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home